Learn Sign Language in the Next 5 Minutes

January 7th, 2010

Do you need to learn American sign language?  Will it help you communicate better with your friends and family?  Give you opportunities for employment?

Whatever your reason, it’s essential that if you need to learn sign language, you do it quickly.  That’s why I recommend the only guide that will get you up and running in just minutes, Rocket Sign Language.

As anyone who’s read my articles before knows, I love Rocket Languages.  Their online language courses are thorough, engaging, and very affordable.  Not to mention, unlike Rosetta Stone and other courses, you can learn the full spectrum of the course, from Beginner to Advanced, all in one place, for a very competitive price.  So learning a new language doesn’t have to bust your wallet–a major concern especially during these hard economic times.

How will Rocket Sign Language get you up and running with American Sign Language quickly?

Well, whether you learn languages best through reading, listening, or interactive games, this online course has everything for you.  Here are the contents:

Component #1: MegaSpelling software game

Component #2: MegaSign software game

Component #3: Dictionary software

Component #4: The Rocket Sign Language Learning Guide

Component #5: Rocket Sign Language Members Only forum

Not a bad lineup, huh?  So you can go from beginner to fluent in sign language either from reading the step-by-step PDF Learning Guide, through the interactive Dictionary, or by listening to the methods via MP3.  I like the fact that Rocket Sign Language offers you different ways of learning, all in one course.

Not to mention, because there are MP3 files, you can take your sign language learning on the go, via an I-Pod or other MP3 device.

Overall, this course is a winner, and one I highly recommend trying out.  Take a good look at learning and improving your sign language right here.

Ethan Parker


Learn The Spanish Language In Spain

January 5th, 2010

If you intend to spend a lot of time in Spain, whether by living there or frequent, lengthy stays, you will want to learn Spanish. For short visits, a few phrases may be sufficient but not for a longer stay and, especially, if you are living in the country. It is difficult to live in the country without speaking and understanding the language, which will help you adapt much faster.

There are quite a few options available today for learning spanish, and you will need to find the best method for you. What works best for one student may not be the most effective learning method for another student. A combination approach often is best, which may include formal instruction, self study and practical use of the language.

Private instruction or language schools are easy to find, though they can be expensive in some cases. The most expensive method for learning Spanish is private instruction, but one-on-one instruction may be the best method for you as compared to group classes. Nonetheless, if you are not able to maintain a self-study program and keep up with the lessons, formal language instruction whether one-on-one or in a group is probably the best choice.

Language exchanges are another great learning tool which can be found on the internet or in magazines and newspapers. Language exchange is more information learning method whereby you learn through informal conversation rather than curriculum-based. You can also use language exchanges as a supplement to a curriculum program or formal instruction, since any opportunity to speak and listen to the language will be beneficial.

If you are moving to Spain, you may want to check with the local city government as they may be able to provide you with some suggestions on local language programs. Some city governments even offer courses which are often free. Of course, there are language schools in Spain. For instance, there is a Spanish Language School in Madrid, the capital of the country.

Once you have learned the basics of the Spanish language, you will want to fine-tune what you have learned and continue to improve your conversational ability. Making friends in Spain is a great opportunity to converse using your new language skills. Not only will you be able to use your speaking and listening skills, making friends will also help you feel more at home.

As far as formal instruction, you can subscribe to more advanced materials such as a magazine subscription or a cassette. For example, the Puerta del Sol is a bimonthly publication which can not only help with your reading and speaking skills but also help you learn about the culture.

Finally, language or social clubs are a good way to improve your skills. These discussion groups are less instructional and more social and generally meet over dinner. This is a great combination of making friends, improving your language skills and eating a great Spanish meal. Such social situations help you gain confidence in your language abilities outside of the classroom and in the real world.

Jack Blacksmith



8 Reasons To Learn A New Language.

January 5th, 2010

Learning a new language is a gratifying enterprise. I’m not going to tell you that it is always easy, but if you go down this road you will not regret it. Motivation often depends on having a clear purpose. The reasons below may help you find the stimulation you need.

Moving to a new country.
Learning the local language will make your integration in the local community a whole lot easier. Maybe many people in your new country speak English. Don’t let that become the excuse not to learn the local language. It will allow you to integrate and connect with the local community in a whole other way. You also demonstrate an involvement and dedication to your new country that will be noticed.

Relatives and friends.
If you are around people who has a different first language from you learning their language will open up a whole new level in your relationship. Learning a language is also learning how to think and feel in a whole different way. Your relationships will change for the better.

At work.
Being able to speak more languages will increase your chances of getting a transfer, finding a new job, getting a promotion or going on business trips. When you work with people who from a different culture speaking their language will grease the skids for partnership and socializing. Maybe you deal with children and older people in you job. Speaking their first language will make their (and your) day a whole lot better.

Even if you can get by with English, speaking the local language will change your travel experiences dramatically. Imagine being able to ask locals for restaurant tips, travel away from the tourist crowds, getting to know the locals and being able to read signs. It will really add another dimension to your vacation

Study abroad.
Speaking the local tongue will serve you well, even if the courses are in English. Living in a foreign country is the best way to learn a new language well. Don’t let the opportunity get away. If you spend some time in advance learning the language you can be a part of the social scene from day one.

Get in touch with your roots.
Your family might have spoken a particular language in the past. If you have children you can learn it together as a family project. Once you have some proficiency try contacting relatives in the “old country” and plan a vacation. You will be treated like kings and see parts of the culture that would be otherwise closed to you.

Let say you enjoy the food or wine of a particular region. Speaking the language will make you a priced guest at any restaurant. If you enjoy making the food yourself all the best cookbooks will be available to you.

Personal development.
learning a language is a personal challenge. It will also show you that there are different ways to view the world. The structure of your language determines how you think. A second language will offer you a different way to think about the world. You will also view you own culture and language through a new lens.

Whatever reason resonates with you I hope you will take on the challenge of learning a new language. It will be rewarding in more ways than you can think of and open up a larger part of the wold for you. Good luck!

Kris Lunde



Learning Spanish Courses – for Work or Play

January 1st, 2010

Learning a language, especially Spanish can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I have put together a few tips on surviving the Spanish language course.

First of all, if you have ever decided on learning Spanish or you think it’s time to knuckle down and finally learn Spanish, you are in luck because there has never been a better time to learn it. More and more countries are accepting Spanish on their school curriculums as there are more Spanish speakers venturing to other countries seeking out new lives. If you do not want to “miss the boat” as it were, now’s the time to study Spanish.

Below I’ve made some bullet points on learning Spanish effectively.

Why learn Spanish in the first place

First of all, before you begin your classes it would be a good idea to know your exact reasons for wanting to learn the language. Is it for work or play? In other words, do you need it in your job or is your learning Spanish more orientated to towards leisure or culture?

So many people are finding better employment these days as a direct result of learning a language such as Spanish. The opportunities that exist are literally endless – translation, catering/restaurants, government and civil servant jobs to name but a few.

I’m quite sure your boss will appreciate you that much more too, let alone your personal finances! Yes, having another language is a tool that helps you earn more money and that can’t be bad, can it? Also, your boss will be inclined to promote you as you will be an invaluable asset to his or any company.

If you have motives other than your job or career then I’m sure you’ll find learning spanish a rewarding hobby. Just think about being able to converse with your new neighbours in Spanish! How welcome you’d make them feel by chatting to them in their native language.

Imagine impressing your family and friends by ordering your next meal at a Mexican or Spanish restaurant in fluent Spanish.

Learning because of love

Maybe you’ve set your heart on learning the Spanish language because of love. Maybe you have met the girl or boy of your dreams and the language barrier has reared its ugly head. What a fine and noble opportunity to learn your future mate’s language and converse properly with them.

One of the best methods to learn Spanish today is by using one of the very many online Spanish course methods. There are a few good ones on the internet today and they are all highly recommended for learning the language.

So whether it’s to improve your career, to enrich yourself culturally or even love then you could hardly go wrong in starting out on the right foot with an online Spanish course.

Miranda Sol


Efficient Language Learning

December 30th, 2009

If you skim through the Internet, you will be able to find virtually thousands of different language learning techniques and methods, some that will prove to do wonders to your progress while others will tend to slow you down. From free language learning courses online, to course books and educational language games, everyone boasts their technique as “the most efficient language learning method”. Well I rounded up a few of these methods that have truly proven to be effective and also explained how they work.

The “Study out loud” method

This method involves uttering out words out loud when studying and focusing as much as possible on conversation, self-talk and verbal rehearsal of words. The Study out loud method has two main advantages. The first one is that you will be able to assimilate what you’ve studied a lot better if you actually say it rather than just say it in your head, since this way you will be using both your auditory and visual memory. Auditory memory is extremely powerful and when it’s combined with visual memory, they’re unstoppable.

The second reason for which the Study out loud method is great is that it will get your mouth used to the language, which will help a great deal with pronunciation. It happens to most of us, if we don’t practice a language for a long time, we can still “think” that language perfectly and pronounce the words perfectly in our heads, but when it’s time for an actual conversation you will need a few days of getting used to. Well this method basically eliminates that buffer time, since you’ll be constantly pronouncing the words, literally getting your mouth “used to” the language.

Fun learning

Studies upon studies have been made on the subject and they all proved the same fact: we learn something a lot easier and more efficiently if we’ve studied it while having fun or at least through a more relaxing method. Fun learning can include anything from using flash cards, playing educational language games in that particular language, watching or listening to media in that language, playing memory games or quizzes and so forth. Take note that fun learning is not as fast as the “normal” learning, but it’s more efficient. The only problem is that the amount of information you are able to assimilate through fun learning methods is usually smaller than the one you can assimilate from normal learning methods.


E-learning is a relatively new teaching method that emphasizes on giving the student as much learning room as possible and it focuses on using interactive audio-video components in the learning process rather than the classic course books and lessons. E-learning also bases itself heavily on the student setting his own learning pace instead of being forced a schedule that could make the learning process stressful or annoying.

Because of their efficiency, these methods are gaining more and more popularity amongst websites dealing with language learning and local language courses alike. Actually, you could try searching for one of these sites and if you’re not comfortable with the above mentioned methods, you could try to find other ones that could prove to be more efficient in your particular case. Good luck!

Michael Gabrikow


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Some Advice When Learning to Speak Japanese

December 24th, 2009

You may need to learn the Japanese language because you are traveling to Japan and want to become familiar with popular Japanese words and phrases. Or you might have taken a class to learn Japanese years before and are now looking for a refresher course. Perhaps you have a great interest in learning to speak Japanese simply because you love the Japanese language.

Whatever the reasons you desire to learn to speak Japanese, you will want to be sure to keep the following advice in mind.

There are many aspects of the Japanese language that you might be considering learning. If you are interested in learning essential Japanese words and phrases to get through a few conversations with those who speak Japanese fluently, then beginning with the basics is the best place to start.

Learn popular words and phrases such as “hello”, “how are you?” and “thank you” first. Then practice using them in your daily conversations with those who speak Japanese. If you do not know anyone who speaks Japanese, keep practicing and speaking your words and phrases daily anyway – practice makes perfect.

If you want to learn Japanese so that you can better understand Japanese etiquette and culture, it is probably best to immerse yourself in conversational Japanese language studies. Learning Japanese this way can be beneficial because you will understand the body language, intonation and communication styles of those who speak Japanese fluently.

Listen to conversational audio, observe fluent speakers interacting with each other, and even try to watch and comprehend Japanese news or other real-life Japanese shows on TV. When listening to others speak Japanese, you still want to try to pick up on basic Japanese words and phrases. However, in learning conversational Japanese, it would be to your advantage to focus on situational phrases and even Japanese slang or expressions as well.

Understanding and using these types of colloquialisms is what helps you to become fluent in the Japanese language. Instead of focusing on basic phrases like “hello” and “good morning”, you will want to focus on how to begin interactions by asking questions like “what is your name?” or “what do you do for a living?”. Japanese etiquette plays a role in conversation, so take notice of the phrases and intonations that younger people use when speaking to their elders or that employees use to speak to their superiors.

It can be very difficult learning a new language. You want to try your best to stay motivated. When learning the Japanese language, you are not only learning to speak new words, you are also learning to read and interpret a different type of writing. Languages such as French and Spanish contain the same letters as the English language, but used in slightly different ways. The Japanese language will be a totally new way of reading and writing for you.

Do not be afraid of making mistakes with reading, writing or speaking Japanese, instead try to learn from your mistakes. Record yourself while you practice speaking Japanese so that you are aware of your mistakes in pronunciation and intonation. Being able to identify your weaknesses as you learn Japanese is the best way to improve.



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Japanese Language Accelerated Learning Techniques

December 15th, 2009

Japanese is anything but an easy language to learn, regardless of one’s mother tongue. Still, it is one of the most popular foreign language choices in America and Europe, for two main reasons: the economical importance of Japan and the numerous businesses contracted between Japan and these areas and the fascination for Japanese culture that mainly formed up through modern Western media. Regardless of which reason you want to learn it for, the Japanese language cannot be learnt easily unless you know how it works.

Japanese is spoken by over 130 million people all over the world, obviously most of them being in Japan’s mainland. The Japanese language’s grammar is usually very complex to foreigners because it uses a specific speaker-listener status vocabulary that is unlike anything English or other western languages can offer. Another showstopper when learning Japanese is its writing style, which uses a combination of three alphabets: Chinese characters (also known as Kanji) and two syllabic scripts known as Katakana and Hiragana. In addition, modern Japan uses the Latin alphabet for more and more purposes, which makes it slightly easier for English speakers to grasp this new language than say, a hundred years ago.

Many Japanese learning courses and books start off slowly, in a gradually increasing order of steps. Although this is the correct way to go with any language learning process, it takes a lot of time and you might simply not have that available time to invest in it. For this reason, there are a series of accelerated learning techniques that skip through some of the basics and try to accumulate these fundamentals over more advanced chapters, naturally. Take note that although this is definitely a faster way to learn Japanese, there’s a good chance that someone that takes the “stepwise”, slower technique will almost always speak and write better and more correctly.

One of the most common Japanese language accelerated learning techniques is to plunge you head first into some easier texts, as soon as you know the basic alphabet, then provide a translation in English (or your mother tongue) of the same text. This obviously skips a lot of steps such as basic grammatical structure, pronunciation of words, punctuation and so forth. However, this accelerated learning technique has the advantage of building up your vocabulary quickly. Doing several of these translated reading exercises per day, you will soon get some of the grammar and spelling foundations that you’ve skipped in the first place, up and running.

The next step in most Japanese language accelerated learning techniques is to play a tape followed by a translated text. After you’ve built on your Japanese reading and understanding skills, the audio technique is the logical step forward. This will correct any pronunciation problems and will also have a positive effect on your vocabulary gain. There are several sources offering Japanese language accelerated learning techniques, including books and courses. You can find some very useful sources online, on sites dealing with Japanese language learning, Japanese language translations and tests.

Michael Gabrikow


Do Language Learning Audio Tapes Really Work?

December 15th, 2009

The audio tape language learning technique took a boost in popularity in the early 90s, when it was considered one of the most prolific learning methods of those times. As with all things that grow too popular for their own good, competition tried to take advantage and turn this popularity into something negative, stating that they can teach you the language better and faster than “those stereotypical, boring, inefficient audio tapes”. Slowly, their fame went down and people started wondering if they actually work, after hearing how numerous competitors in the language learning market can do better and how they can do it faster. This article will try to shed some light on this subject and answer the question as to whether audio language learning tapes really work or not.

Most language learning specialists will agree that reading and listening are two extremely important factors for getting the basics and for improving the vocabulary of any given foreign language. Although reading sources are extremely easy to find (in local libraries, on the Internet, etc) listening ones aren’t. Audio language learning tapes and the country’s media culture are pretty much the only things that offer you something to listen to (and if that particular country’s media culture is not very developed or it lacks completely, audio tapes are all you have left).

No one can really decide on which of the two methods, reading or listening, is better for learning a new language. Reading has the advantage of allowing you to memorize words quicker and for longer periods of time (cause visual memory is more powerful than audio memory) but then again you only have a rough idea on how to pronounce these new words. Audio tapes on the other hand, provide a good way to get your pronunciation skills up and running and also have the advantage of getting you familiar with using the foreign language in an actual conversation.

Truth be told, the best audio language learning tapes come together with reading material that complement what you hear. Some come with exact transcriptions of the audio, so you can read through while you’re hearing things (helping you understand and memorize what the tape is saying better) while others provide translations of the stuff said on tape, which allows you to compare words, grammar rules, etc. If you have a choice, I would recommend getting an audio tape that has an exact transcription attached to it, since this helps a lot in attaining a powerful vocabulary and in learning how to pronounce words correctly.

So to answer the question, do language learning audio tapes really work? Yes they do, provided they have a decent quality and they take the learning process up gradually. Despite the slight fall in popularity, audio tapes remain one of the main language learning methods and if you’ve considered starting a new language at home, an audio tape might be the thing for you. Please note that you can order or download several such audio language learning recordings over the internet.

Michael Gabrikow


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6 Common Mistakes Made in Language Learning

December 11th, 2009

As with any practice that doesn’t necessarily has a “one way” of being done, language learning has a few common mistakes that apply to most, if not all the available learning methods out there. Whether you’re studying using a free online course, through educational games, translated texts, flashcards or any other method, you’re bound to find one of these mistakes if what you’re using is not of good quality.

1. Learning the new language like a science

The language learning process is by no means comparable to say, learning a particular science or learning a profession. Language learning is a skill and like all skills, sheer, raw information gurgling won’t do the trick. This is a very common mistake that is especially hard to avoid in written language learning methods such as courses, online lessons and the likes. It’s very tempting for the writers of these materials to simply divide the language in big chunks and feed it to you with a large spoon: “here’s the grammar” “here’s the spelling” “here’s the vocabulary”. This will get you nowhere, or if it will indeed have any effect, you will take the longest route to get to it.

2. Taking large breaks

I’m feeling metaphorical today, so let me compare the language learning process to a huge furnace. If you want to light this huge furnace you’ll need to constantly feed it firewood and as you do so, you’ll see the fire growing bigger and bigger. Now, stop the process and the fire will go out and you’ll have to put an almost equally hard effort to get it back on. It’s the same with language learning. Once you get into it and you start getting the hang of it, a large break from studying or practicing could be a killer. Detach yourself completely from the learning and practicing and you’ll find yourself having to bring in a new load of firewood.

3. Learning too fast

There’s a factor that I like to call “learning anxiety” that usually affects persons trying to study a language because of a personal or professional need (your wife’s Japanese, your new business partner is French, your son is Dutch, stuff like that). This phenomenon happens when you’re in a rush to get basic grip on a language and you skip through some of the essential steps too fast. You go in studying grammar without a basic vocabulary, you get into advanced terms before even knowing the basic ones and so forth. This may indeed allow you to understand and make yourself understood in a conversation, but overall, you will take more time correcting your wrongfully learnt concepts than it would have taken you if you had studied them correctly in the first place.

4. Using solely “theoretical” learning methods

This issue could be a problem with 9 out of 10 learning processes, but the language learning one is even more acute. Whether you could pull it off perfectly in say, physics, if you only used theoretical learning all the time and you were suddenly faced with a real, practical problem, with language learning you’re bound to look a fool. Theoretical language learning will hardly form any accurate pronunciation skills and whenever you’ll be faced with an actual conversation in that language, you just won’t be able to express all that theoretical information you stored up.

5. Using the “all work no play” technique

It’s well known that anything you learn while relaxing or having fun, you learn with more ease and the information you store this way is longer lasting and can be used more effectively. You’ll be amazed by the amount of language learning techniques out there that don’t take advantage of this and instead, tend to follow the more rigorous path. Sure, playing vocabulary games, using flashcards, completing quizzes or whatever you could deem as “fun learning” won’t be as fast or intense as the rigid methods, but you get the above mentioned effects and you lose the risk of getting learning fatigue.

6. Learning monotony

Although last in our list, this is by far the most common mistake that you will find with online language courses and even with language center practical lessons and courses. language learning is a long, arduous process, make no mistake about it. I don’t care what those “Learn Spanish in 2 weeks” course books say, it just can’t be done in such a short time span. Or well, if you consider grasping the complicated inner-workings of phrases like “Hello, how are you today?” in Spanish having “learnt” a language, then so be it. Anyway, the point is that in this long and arduous process, we tend to get bored, we tend to lose the initial enthusiasm when we realize that “hey, this isn’t as fun as I thought, it’s actually hard work”. Lesson monotony does not help this and it’s the main reason most people simply quit a course instead of putting up with it.

To avoid learning monotony, try to mix up your learning methods as much as possible. Use translated texts, use audio tapes, engage in conversations with friends, teachers or other students, watch media in that particular language if available, play educational games, use flashcards, use the dictionary to improve your vocabulary, do ANYTHING you have to do, just don’t let learning boredom overcome you, because trust me when I say this, it’s a foreign language killer in way too many cases.

Michael Gabrikow

Learning to Speak the English Language

December 7th, 2009

When you speak in your native language, you don’t have to think about the grammar or the words you use. Correct sentences seem to just come to you. Your brain uses sentences you’ve already seen or heard. If you want to learn to speak the English language fluently, you have to learn it the way you learned your native language, by reading and listening.

Reading and listening to the English language will help you develop English language intuition. Learning the English language is all about putting lots of proper sentences in your head. Your brain can then imitate them and produce similar English language sentences to express the meaning you want. When you read and listen to the English language a lot, paying close attention to useful English vocabulary, you will soon start to use new English language words and phrases in your speaking and writing. Not only that, but you will develop English language intuition. You will start to feel what sounds good and what sounds incorrect in the English language, just as you do in your native language.

To get a good feeling for the use of articles in the English language you need to read lots of sentences and analyze them closely. It seems like it would be easier to read a unit on English language articles in a grammar book, but it takes lots of time to build a sentence when you have to think of all of the English language grammar rules. When you talk to someone, you don’t have time to do that. The input-based approach may seem to be more demanding, but it’s the only way to achieve fluency.

If you have ever attended English language classes, you have probably been asked to read a text and then complete a task connected with it. Most teachers encourage students to read very quickly, just to get the main points out of the English language text. You might think that this way you will improve your English, but it’s the other way around. Reading in such a way isn’t very useful; it could even slow down your progress!

When you read in your native language, you read for content. Your brain focuses on key words that convey the meaning of the text. This way you are able to read faster. But this is the wrong thing to do when reading in the English language. You want to concentrate on the grammar, too. You should analyze the sentences closely. When reading content in the English language, try to notice interesting things in every sentence you read. It could be a useful phrase or an expression that you could have written wrongly. In this way you can learn how to use the English language more correctly, faster.

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Groshan Fabiola